Core to my spirituality is the trust that everyone has inherent dignity – that it is in our bones, the very essence of who we are.
And part of having this inherent dignity is that we also have autonomy. By having inherent dignity, it means that I have some sense of control over my own life that nobody else can take away.
And that by you having inherent dignity, it means for me that I get to honor you, without ever attempting to dehumanize or take away your dignity, your autonomy, your ability to make personal decisions for your health, your ability to exist and live a life you want to live.
Ending Abortion Access Is An Attack on Women’s Inherent Dignity
The fact is, abortions happen regardless of legality. From 2010 to 2014, the number of abortions in countries where it was illegal mirrored the number of abortions in countries where it wasn’t. In both cases, there were roughly 35 abortions per 1,000 women. (Source: Abortion Worldwide 2017, WHO)
By removing access to them or by making them illegal, many women are put in harm’s way through being forced to carry a baby to term when it is unsafe for them to do so, having to turn to unsafe, underground abortion procedures, or the emotional harm of having to carry a baby born from rape or incest, just to name a few.
The World Health Organization reports that 23,000 women die each year from unsafe abortions. And another study shows that by making abortion illegal in the United States, there will likely be a 21% increase in pregnancy-related deaths, a number which is far worse for Black women, in addition to the harm and deaths caused by unsafe abortions.
Ending abortion access removes a pregnant woman’s autonomy, places them in direct harm, and is therefore an attack on all of women’s inherent dignity.
This is clearly not about a mother’s health or “the children” – this is about who has power and who does not.
Spirituality Without Action Means Nothing
At the current moment, it is unlikely that abortion will be banned across the United States. But, given the recent news that the Supreme Court has voted preliminarily to reverse Roe v. Wade, abortion access is likely to be severely restricted in the coming months.
Which means more women, especially women of color, are going to die.
Many pastors in the coming days, especially on the progressive side, will call for a “spiritual response.” This is good and fine. But more important than a “spiritual response” is a material and activist response rooted in the foundations of one’s spirituality.
Lament and prayers have their place, but without action, spirituality is stuck in the personal sphere, disconnected from the inherent dignity of everyone in the world. This is why, despite the phrase’s overuse, silence is violence.
More will be coming out in the coming days for how we can respond to the Court’s coming decision and push back upon it. In the meantime, here are some on-the-ground organizations, mostly in the South, you can support that work hands-on to affirm women’s inherent dignity and support them having access to the medical care they need. Give what you can and get active in the ways that you can – even if they stretch you beyond your comfort zone. Especially if they stretch you beyond your comfort zone.
Have trouble squaring this with your religious or spiritual beliefs?